Sunday, April 30, 2017

What She Read in April 2017

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Squeaking in on the last day of the month to report on April's reading. Such a good month for read-alouds in this house. I'm not saying it's because we are thisclose to the end of the school year, and right now reading aloud is about all we feel like doing! (Math and a few other things are still in the loop, but the end is in sight.) We finished four read-alouds this month, and I read three books - two in the last week ... another sign that I'm about to get a small reprieve from school stuff for some fun reading downtime. :)

Our read-alouds that we finished were:

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  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. The boy and I read this at bedtime over the last month and as I mentioned in March's post, I really enjoyed reading it this time around. The stories are just so clever and funny. I know some of the humor went over Ethan's head, but they were animal stories which automatically makes it a hit with him. 
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  • The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong. This was such a great book. We were totally sucked into the story of the school children in this small Dutch town. The towns surrounding their small area all have storks that come and nest on the roofs of the houses - why doesn't their town have storks? A simple question asked leads to this small town on a quest and several unexpected friendships to bring the storks back to Shora. Loved this one!
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  • Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton. This book is such a gem. The story of Henry who loves to draw. But one day one of his drawings escapes and comes to life and, as expected, mayhem ensues. Lots of big thoughts about how it can be scary to be an artist and let your work out so others can see it ... and comment on it! My books is littered with little post-its of great quotes and turns of phrases that I wanted to remember:
Quest. It was probably the best word of all the words ever made up. It meant going on a really long journey to find something you want a whole lot.
Henry was telling the truth. Dragons aren't scary - well, they are, but they're a good kind of scary. They're the kind of scary you want to be scared of. People are the bad kind of scary, he thought. Dragons can only eat you, but people can laugh at you, and that is like being chewed to death with a smile.
It is a dangerous thing to open a door. But that, after all, is the only way to find an adventure.
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Of note: we got to meet the author at a book signing for Henry, and she was delightful. :)
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      • Stuart Little by E.B. White. This is the first time that I have ever read this one which surprises even myself, considering I'm such a fan of Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan (review). We enjoyed it - I do have a soft spot for mouse tales - but I also found this book a little on the odd side. It was a nice short read-aloud, but Stuart is no Wilbur. 
      The books that I read this month:
      • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. I picked this one up for Amy's Newbery Challenge. I'm just sure that I read this at some point as a child, but it has been a while! It's the story of young Kit who must move to colonial Connecticut to live with her extremely strict relatives. The religious liberty that these colonists came to America to find have them extremely suspicious of anything that doesn't fit into their mold, and Kit finds herself very lonely until she meets a women who most of the village suspects is a witch. Fascinating read about early America and one that I think I'll pass on to N2 this next year when we return to American history in our studies.
      • The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertram. This is fun literary mystery set in San Francisco. I read Bertram's Book Scavenger last year enough to make sure that the sequel was on our shelves when it came out last week. If you liked Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library or books with lots of literary references sprinkled throughout, I recommend this one!
      • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. This book was recommended to me by Nicole on Instagram. I enjoy mysteries (can't get the Nancy Drew out of a girl once she's hooked) and when she said this was a YA series based on the descendants of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, I decided to give it a try. This was a great mystery and I definitely liked the premise of the Watson and Holmes descendants always finding each other. That said, I didn't care for some of the language in the book, but that is my only quibble with this. 
      And with that we are on to May. :) With the prospect of school ending, a family road-trip, and the pool opening in the next several weeks, I have high hopes for more reading time to come. Which means a summer reading list, naturally!

      Saturday, April 01, 2017

      March 2017 Reads

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      March has come in like a lion and is going out like a lion! It has been a full month as we are about one week away from winding up our Classical Conversations work for the little folk in this house. (N1 still has about a month left of her Challenge A class). Thus, it has been a light month for personal reading around here. We did just come off of a week of spring break, but there wasn't much downtime for reading as I was on a decluttering mission, as you do when the weather starts to warm up and you want to shed all your winter fluff in all areas! We have been reading aloud a ton and that is the sum of most of what I have to report this month.

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      The boy and I have been in a fantastic night time reading routine and finished two bedtime books this month. We read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl - that book just gets better with each read through! We also finished Akimbo and the Lions by Alexander McCall Smith. This was one of N1's favorite series when she was reading small chapter books and it was a winner with Ethan as well. Really, anything with animals is a winner with him. Right now he and I are about half way through Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, another one that I am enjoying immensely more this time through. Maybe it's because I just came off a year of teaching grammar in our homeschool co-op but Kipling has such great plays on words, alliteration, and clever turns of phrases that it's just been a delight to read. And the stories themselves are fun, too.

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      Our school time read-aloud for most of March was The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. I remember seeing the old movie as a child (and was slightly traumatized by the shipwreck portion at the beginning of it!) but had never read the book. It was mentioned in Sally Clarkson's recent book Different as one that really resonated with her wild boy she was trying to tame ... off I went to the library for our own copy to hopefully inspire a couple of mine, likewise. :) This was was actually first published in 1941 (I also didn't realize it was so old) and tells the story of how Alec and the Black were the only survivors of a tragic shipwreck. They learn to depend on one another and Alec becomes the only person able to tame the savage horse. They make it back home and the book culminates in a fantastic horse race - I'll save the spoilers of who won, but I bet you can guess. :) This was a GREAT read-aloud and one I'll pull back out in a few years when Ethan is ready to read it on his own. I could see him getting lost in this whole series.

      Personally, I read three books (I guess I did read a little more than I thought!) but one definitely took the a huge chunk of my month. Johnny Tremain was my pick for Amy @ Hope is the Word's Newbery challenge for March. I had never read this one (shock!). Set during the Revolutionary War against England, this is one I am considering revisiting next year when we work through American history.

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      I also read The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill and Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs (both on Kindle). Pekoe Most Poison is a light mystery in Laura Childs' tea shop mystery series. A nice clean mystery series sometimes is hard to come by and this is perfect for someone who was a die-hard fan of Murder, She Wrote when she was in junior high, a-hem. :) The Girl Who Drank the Moon was the 2017 Newbery winner and I loved this one. So much that I went in search of more Kelly Barnhill books from my library. On its surface it is a simple tale of magic and love and protection, but through out the story we are unraveling the little lies that the main characters have told to "protect" each other. But were those lies really worth it for all the heartbreak and misdirection they caused? It was one that I picked up for a song on Kindle last year, and it was well worth the couple of dollars I spent on it.

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      It's almost time to start thinking about SUMMER READING. :) (I'm eyeing my Mitford stack and wishing I could while away the hours rereading those favorites - there is new one coming in September and I am ready!) I'm hoping to start pulling together a summer to-read list for myself and thinking of what would make a good evening family read-aloud with our whole crew. Book lists are definitely some of my favorite things.